May 9, 2021

Subthalamic nucleus stabilizes movements by reducing neural spike variability in monkey basal ganglia: chemogenetic study

The subthalamic nucleus (STN) projects to the external pallidum (GPe) and internal pallidum (GPi), the relay and output nuclei of the basal ganglia (BG), respectively, and plays an indispensable role in controlling voluntary movements. To elucidate the neural mechanism by which the STN controls GPe/GPi activity and movements, we utilized a chemogenetic method to reversibly suppress the motor subregion of the STN in three macaque monkeys (Macaca fuscata, both sexes) engaged in reaching tasks. Systemic administration of chemogenetic ligands prolonged movement time and increased spike train variability in the GPe/GPi, but only slightly affected firing rate modulations. Across-trial analyses revealed that the irregular discharge activity in the GPe/GPi coincided with prolonged movement time. STN suppression also induced excessive abnormal movements in the contralateral forelimbs, which was preceded by STN and GPe/GPi phasic activity changes. Our results suggest that the STN stabilizes spike trains in the BG and achieves stable movements.

 bioRxiv Subject Collection: Neuroscience

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